It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Summer

Yesterday was the first truly nice day of the year in Chicago. At the risk of sounding like Al Roker, I’m going to go ahead and call it unseasonably warm. Like 75 degrees. I wore open-toed sandals (especially exciting because it was the first day in history that I happened to have nicely painted toenails, due to a recent pedicure with a potential BFF. Score.) and a shirt that screams “I’m going on a cruise.” (It may only scream this to me as I bought it when I was getting ready to go on a cruise, but it’s definitely a warm weather shirt… And I digress.)

Driving to work, it was clear that even at 7 am the streets were spilling with worker bees strolling a bit more leisurely to the office, soaking in the sunshine. That’s the thing about living in a city where it snows 364 days a year (what? Is that an exaggeration?). The sun brings everyone out of the woodwork, and an already friendly city becomes the puppetless version of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood.

It dawned on me that my BFF search is about to get much easier. With everyone dancing in the street, brunching on sidewalks, reading in the parks, I’ll certainly increase the amount of people I encounter on a given day. When the wind chill is 20 below, no one is interested in chatting on the street corner. There’s an unspoken “put your head down and barrel through the wind at all costs” survival instinct that is respected amongst Chicagoans walking to the El on a December morning. But now that warm weather’s upon us (please don’t let me be jinxing this…) everyone in the Windy City is like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that scene in 500 Days of Summer. You know, the one with the animated bluebirds. If you haven’t seen it, you can probably envision the mood of a scene that has animated bluebirds. It’s like that.

I was wondering if there was any actual research to back this up, so I googled “the effect of weather on friendship.” In return, I got a boatload of articles on fair weather friends. Of course.

It’s kind of amazing that I was crowning the warm weather as my wingman in this quest without making the fair-weather friend connection. And by amazing, I mean embarrassing.

A fair-weather friend is “one who is friendly [helpful, etc.] only when it is advantageous or easy.” Given that definition I should really hone in on this search during a blizzard—if you’ll meet me for dinner in a snowstorm, I can be confident in the high value you place on commitment and reliability. But here’s the thing about the early stages of a friend search: I want it to be easy. If it’s hard to be my BFF, nobody’s going to sign up.

Still, the label identifies a very specific sort of friend. The one who shows up when it’s easy and convenient. The ones you were sure would always be there (aren’t they always the ones who talk a big friendship game?) until they were noticeably absent when life got tough. And then, when things got good again, ta-dah! You get the picture.

I’m lucky that I don’t really have any fair-weather friends left. Those who were of the 70-and-sunny variety, their stay in my life was fleeting, much like Chicago heat waves in April.

What about you?


Filed under The Search

11 responses to “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Summer

  1. I don’t think I have any fair-weather friends either. More like an ever growing circles of friendly acquaintances and a shrinking cluster of real friends.

  2. Anonymous

    as I get older and have had my second child I find that I have very little time or patience for fairweather friends…either be in my life regularly or don’t be at alll. This sounds harsh but I made the decision for them after some disappointing effort (or lack thereof) on their end. My “me” time is too precious to waste.

  3. Lynn

    I just wanted to say that your description of summertime chi as “the puppetless version of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood” is amazing. LOVE!

  4. My “friends” from work – after I left the job.
    My “friends” from church – once we left that church.
    Fair weather friends that I have neither time nor energy for.

  5. Ana

    I think there can be a time and place for fair-weather friends…as long as both parties are aware that you are only hanging out casually with no assumption of true friendship. I think a lot of work friends fit into that category, or neighborhood friends…if I left my job, or moved out of the neighborhood, it would be a lot less convenient to talk to or hang out with those friends, and our friendship (except for a select few true friends) would probably naturally fade over time.
    The other type of fair-weather friends, the kind you mention that talk a big game but are nowhere to be found when you really need them—as “anonymous” said above, at this time in my life, I have no time/patience for flaky people like that anymore.

  6. rudrip

    As you get older, I think you have a better “people” detector. You have a keener eye in predicting who might be a fair-weather friend. I don’t think it hurts any less in discovering a friend could be in the fair-weather category, but at least you come to expect it when you are older.

  7. Janet

    actually it is the “foul” weather friends who bother me the most. like the ones who call, under the guise of being supportive, asking probing inappropriate questions when you have lost a loved one. clearly, all they want are the gory details. can you imagine? yes, it happens.
    here is another notable mention: how about when someone calls you to “take you to lunch” celebrating your birthday, and when the day arrives, she simply forgets!
    do i attract odd people? or does the san francisco fog muddle minds around here?

    • Foul weather friends! I love it! And I most certainly know what you are talking about — they want to show up only when things hit rock bottom to earn points for “being there” and really just want more gossip for their arsenal. The birthday thing I have not experienced firsthand but.. oy!

  8. It’s funny you should mention the fair-weather friends. I went out with some friends a couple weeks ago, and when I said I hoped I’d see them again soon, one said that of course we’d hang out more because it’s getting warm out again. It’s annoying, but I do think Chicago’s frigid winter weather makes a lot of people here less motivated to get out of the house to meet new friends, much less go out and mingle with old ones. These are fair weather friends in the most literal sense!

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